Top 7 Best Travel Coffee Makers - Drink Coffee Anywhere
Most coffee gear is designed for the home setting. There you have access to everything you might need to brew a great cup: space, electricity, time, etc. But what about when you leave those creature comforts behind?
Why Buy a Portable Coffee Maker?
If you don't already know the answer to this question, then you probably don't need to buy one. You have your Breville Double Boiler right there on the counter, so why look for anything else?
But if you spend much time on the road or on the trail, you may have wondered whether it's possible to enjoy a decent cup of coffee without spending a ton at coffee houses or lugging around a backpack full of gear.
Fortunately, you don't have to compromise (at least not too much) if you want portability and quality. And we're not talking about packing a sack full of Starbucks VIA either.
(Although that is an option if you have zero space and just need a shot of caffeine in the morning.)
What You Should Know Before Buying a Portable Coffee Maker
When you're trying to choose a travel coffee maker, first decide what is most important to you. This will likely depend on when and where you plan to use your brewer.
Also, think about your favorite style of coffee. Here in the twenty-first century, you can find a mini coffee maker for basically any type of brew: pour over, french press, espresso, etc.
Here are a few typical scenarios to think about when buying your portable system.
If you're staying at a hotel, motel, or an AirBNB, you'll have many of the amenities that you have at home. One of the main ones is electricity.
Since you could have access to a microwave, electric kettle, or even a stove, you'll find it easy to heat water. And with a suitcase, your portable coffee maker can be a bit bigger and not so bare bones.
In some cases, camping can be like staying at a hotel with electricity and easy access to water. For the more rugged outdoors experience, you might forego those luxuries but still have access to more space in your car.
So consider how you'll be heating water and whether you will need to think about weight at all.
For backpacking, weight is everything.
Many of the systems in the rundown are compact, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are light. Consider your current gear arrangement and whether or not you have room for the bulkier travel coffee makers.
Many coffee drinkers find themselves wishing for a hot cup of coffee after a large storm has blown through and knocked out the power.
If you have a way to heat water (either through a gas stove or grill), you can satisfy that craving by keeping a small coffee maker on hand since none of these require electricity.
A Note on Grinding
As you know, the most flavorful, enjoyable coffee requires grinding fresh beans immediately before brewing.
But if you're on the road, you're likely not lugging along a Baratza Virtuoso. If you're camping without electricity, that might not even be an option.
Instead, you might want to think about a manual burr grinder. While they take a little more effort, many produce a consistent grind and come in a small package.
If even a small grinder would be too bulky (or too much work), you might consider a prepackaged coffee option or grind your own and seal it as best you can.
Top Rated Travel Coffee Makers
|Travel Coffee Maker||Capacity||Price|
Espro Travel Coffee Press
Coffee Gator Pour Over
Bialetti Moka Express
GSI Collapsible Drip
|1 - 12 cups|
AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
AeroPress combines the French Press, immersion brew, and espresso maker techniques to produce great coffee quickly. While it may be known for its cult following, this compact coffee maker is durable, versatile, and portable.
And it makes an excellent cup of coffee.
The magic behind the AeroPress is the way it uses pressure and immersion to brew coffee quickly with desirable results.
This unit is not a looker. In fact, you might think it would find it's home in a chemistry lab somewhere. Coffee is really more about science than art, though, so the AeroPress could be what's missing in your travel coffee routine.
The brewing process with this system is revolutionary, but it's also simple: place filter; add coffee; add water and stir; insert the plunger and press down. You can brew coffee directly into your mug, then add hot water for an Americano. For a latte-style drink, add hot, foamed milk.
With its micro-filters, the press allows you to make one to four cups of coffee concentrate from a finely-ground coffee. While it claims to make espresso, this isn't really the case.
It's strong. It's tasty. But using just two BARs of pressure (when espresso takes nine), the AeroPress brews something espresso-like.
Many coffee drinkers use the AeroPress for their everyday brewer. It's real selling point for this list, however, is it's size and durability. The unit packs easily into a suitcase or duffel bag. And because it's made of plastic, you won't have to worry about it packing it carefully.
Since it needs no electricity and can handle somewhat inconsistent grinds, the AeroPress is an excellent accessory for camping or other outdoor activities where coffee is a must. It weighs in at just under 8 oz (or just over 9 with all the accessories), so it might not make it into the lightest of backpacks.
Espro Travel Coffee Press
When you picture a French Press, you probably think of a relaxing, casual day at home. Planning, preparing, and pouring the perfect brew as you start your morning.
That's great for the weekend, but what about when you need to balance your thirst for flavorful coffee with your need to get on the road for your daily commute? Or if you're away from home for more than a day?
This travel press from Espro addresses both those needs with its practical and simple design.
On the outside, it looks like a standard travel mug. Once you open it up, though, you'll see an entire French Press system.
The brewing process is similar to a French Press. Simply attach the filter to the plunger lid. Then add your coffee to the mug and pour in your hot water. Screw on the lid and wait 3 to 4 minutes then press. The coffee can be served immediately or consumed directly from the mug.
Since the Espro uses a filtration system that stops extraction once the plunger is completely pushed down, you don't have to worry about a bitter, over-extracted brew. And the insulated mug will keep your coffee steaming all morning.
Thanks to the ultra-fine filtration, you can stop worrying about gritty coffee from your press. Instead, enjoy a drink that is full of flavor and convenient. And it won't cost you any more than a quality French Press.
It is perfect for brewing your morning mug, but it won't keep you full of coffee all day since it holds only 12 oz. For camping, however, the Espro press is great since it needs only hot water and ground coffee.
MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker
Hitting the road doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to rich, flavorful espresso. If you've been haunted by tasteless hotel coffee, or if you've ever desperately craved a true pick-me-up while out on the trails, this portable espresso maker could be exactly what you need.
Unlike some simpler brewing methods, true espresso needs more than just coffee and water. It needs pressure. Fortunately, the MiniPresso uses a semi-automatic piston that delivers around eight BARs.
To brew, you'll add 8 grams of finely ground coffee into the basket and secure it in the brew chamber. Then add hot water into the other side. Unlatch the piston, and have at it with your thumb or palm. With a few pumps (at around one per second), you'll have an actual shot of espresso.
As with any semi-automatic espresso maker, you will need to adjust your grind to get the shot just right. But once you've dialed it in, you can expect great results from anywhere you have hot water.
The MiniPresso is compact too. It looks like a large pill with a button on the side, and it's bound to draw some attention, especially when you start pumping that piston to brew a shot of fresh espresso.
At nearly 13 oz, though, it's a bit heavy for most backpackers. It will easily fit into a suitcase or car if you're camping or staying in a hotel.
Coffee Gator Pour Over Coffee Maker and Travel Brewer
Coffee on the go doesn't have to require sacrifice, especially for the pour over fans. While you might have the perfect, elaborate setup at home, you probably don't want to take that system on the road with you. You don't want broken glass all over your car or in your bag.
Instead, you can brew an excellent pour over into a durable, well-insulated travel mug thanks to Coffee Gator.
The stylish mug is a nice find by itself. It has a locking lid to ensure no leaks. Its double-layered walls have stainless steel lining with a copper layer to keep your brew piping for as long as you need.
But this isn't just a travel mug. It's a pour over system.
The metal filter is fine mesh and requires no paper filters to go along with it. So your brewing is convenient and sustainable. The filter fits perfectly on top of the mug, allowing you to pour precisely with no mess.
Granted, for a great pour over, you'll want a gooseneck kettle, but you can probably get by without one when you're traveling. If you love manual coffee brewing and getting out of the house, the Coffee Gator system is a great purchase.
It can even be a decent brewer for your morning joe if you don't already have a pour over setup.
Presto MyJo Single Cup Coffee Maker
For all the pod people out there (K-cup lovers, not aliens), you've likely experienced the frustration of not being able to take your convenience with you. Especially if you're camping with no electricity.
Portable single cup brewers provide the solution, and the Presto MyJo delivers everything you need to take your favorite pod coffee on the road.
While a Keurig in action might seem like magic, it's basically just pouring hot water through ground coffee in a small filter basket. That's what the MyJo does too. It just requires a little more work on your part.
Your favorite coffee pod goes in the base of the unit, which attaches to the water reservoir. If you're near a microwave, you can just pop the reservoir in to heat it quickly. If not, use a kettle on the stove, on the campfire, or even over a Sterno setup. Then pour it (carefully) into the water reservoir.
Attach the pump to the top, place the entire unit on your mug, and get to brewing by pushing down on the pump. To brew a cup that tastes like it came out of a Keurig, you'll probably need a little practice. But you should have drinkable coffee from the very beginning.
If you're using pods, you get the convenience of tossing it in the trash and rinsing off the brewer. No mess. If you prefer to use your own ground coffee, the refillable MyJo filter cup works the same as those you would use with a Keurig.
The MyJo is definitely more compact than a standard single cup brewer. But compared to some of the other portable brewers in our roundup, it's a bit bulky. At just under a pound (14 oz), it probably won't make the cut on your next backpacking adventure.
The pods will also take up more space than straight coffee, but the unit doesn't really need any other accessories (except for a way to heat water). Overall, it's a great choice for camping or hotels, or for when the power is knocked out by a storm.
Bialetti Moka Express 3-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker
Want to feel like you're enjoying your morning coffee in an Italian villa? Do you enjoy rich, bold coffee that stands up to added cream or milk? Then the Moka Express could be a great choice even if you aren't travelling.
If you are looking to brew strong coffee on the road, though, then this small unit really shines.
Built from quality, polished aluminum, the Bialetti Moka Express brews 3 excellent demitasse (2 oz shots) using a classic design and method. Granted, this is not a true espresso despite what the title claims. But it is tasty, strong coffee.
For those not familiar with the stovetop espresso maker, it will take some experimenting to achieve the perfect brew. The unit boils water and forces it up through the ground coffee, and it shouldn't be brewed too quickly or for too long.
Since every stovetop is different, there is no universal setting to ensure that your coffee doesn't taste burnt or weak. Instead, you'll have to try it for yourself.
And you'll need to keep a close eye on it. This is not a set-and-forget system. You'll need to be close by to know when the brewer is actually finished. Depending on your situation, this could mean a 10+ minute brew.
Once you nail down the process, though, you can take this unit anywhere. All you need is water and a reliable heat source.
Note: you should not put it directly on a campfire (or any other fire) if there's the possibility that flames will stray outside the bottom of the pot.
The unit itself is compact, but its metal construction puts it on the heavy side (just over 16 oz). And since it requires a steady heat source, it won't work in situations where you have just a microwave to heat water.
If you want to brew in a traditional manner and need just a few ounces of strong, bold coffee, the Bialetti Moka Express will deliver.
GSI Outdoors Collapsible Java Drip
When portability is the main goal, nothing beats collapsible. This bellows style silicone filter holder from GSI is made with campers and outdoors enthusiasts in mind.
Weighing less than six ounces, the drip cone allows you to make pour over coffee from anywhere as long as you have hot water.
When collapsed, it forms a disc that is a mere 1 inch high and 5.6 inches in diameter. That's small enough to make room in all but the most minimal backpacks.
Expand it to its full height, though, and the Java Drip works just like any pour over system.
It can brew from 1-12 cups of coffee, through a #4 paper filter. And the base of the unit will be stable on mugs and even wide mouth bottles.
You probably won't be able to expertly craft a pour over on the trail (even if you're hauling a gooseneck kettle and scale), but this will get you close.
If you're looking for a strong, bold brew, you might opt for an AeroPress or other system designed to make a richer coffee. The Java Drip is great for a lighter coffee.
Plus, it can accommodate larger groups (or just you if you need a lot of coffee in the morning).
No matter what has pulled you away from home, you shouldn't feel like it has pulled you away from excellent coffee as well. And you don't have to make a mad dash to the coffeehouse as soon as you see one.
With just a little preparation and ingenuity, you can brew flavorful coffee that will make the hotel feel a bit more like home. Or, you can be the star of the campground, making all your friends drool, bleary-eyed with envy.
Unless you decide to share. But that's totally up to you.